cmconnect.org: another new Children’s Ministry web community

I stumbled across another new children’s ministry web community the other day. cmconnect.org was developed by Michael Chanley to be a “free website designed to help people in Children’s Ministry network with one another.” I originally found the website while checking my twitter content. Karl Bastian of kidology.org referred to it. Interestingly, Michael had just connected with me via facebook and even later invited me via email to join cmconnect.org, after I had already done so.

It seems to me that there is a synergy occurring, particularly between facebook and twitter users, but also those on kidology and through RSS feeds. I suppose like attracts like to a certain degree, and people tend to gravitate toward communities of common interest. In any event, I was hesitant at first to join yet another web community. Truth be told, I feel maxed out as it is. There are only so many precious minutes in the day to read or contribute content and to network. However, how could I turn down a recommendation by the most auspicious and honorable Kidologist? Okay, okay, I suppose I never have followed his recommendation to buy a Mac, but the point remains.

My only quibble with cmconnect thus far is that it does not appear to be compatible with Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers, particularly when attempting to edit the user profile. In my situation, I was repeatedly booted after receiving an exception error. This could effectively create a roadbloack for potential users who log on with IE. On the positive side, when I contacted Michael about this, he replied promptly, acknowledging the browser conflict and recommending Firefox. Personally, I don’t have a problem downloading firefox, as I think it will be worthwhile to see how God might use this emerging community to refine me and introduce me to new friends. Others, however, might not see it that way. But that is for them to decide. Yet, I encourage folks to try it with Firefox from the outset and see if they benefit from the user experience.

Once the browser issue is worked out, I think the site has terrific upsides. It seems intuitive. It has great potential for growth of its userbase. It encourages networking, interaction, content distribution, and varied media. And most importantly, its administrator seems to be a straight shooter who has a customer service sensibility. His attitude toward my plight is what caused me to say, “Yes I will download firefox and try again to utilize the site. As soon as I get time, of course.”

UPDATE on June 28:

Downloaded Firefox. The cmconnect.org site works like a gem. Seems sorta like facebook, in a way, but focused on children’s ministry. Nice to see a new addition to the webworld.

Websites to note

Here are a few websites I have noticed recently.

Going to Seminary is a great resource blog for new or seasoned seminary students. It gives practical tips, fresh ideas, and lots of encouragement, all from writers who are going to seminary themselves. They are living out the stuff which they write about. So check them out. I wish they had been around when I first started seminary. It would have helped me avoid a ton of pitfalls.

YouVersion is an online Bible which enables community and collaboration. It allows use of a variety of translations, but also the ability for you to contribute your content so that others can benefit from your notes. I have not used it yet, but it looks like a truly interesting idea. I love the fact they emphasize community in the context of content so that relationships are built even as ideas are presented and refined through the interaction of online peers.

New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) is a translation for early readers. It is designed to be understood by typical 4th grade children. It provides a natural stepping stone to moving to the NIV when the child’s reading level reaches that point.

3isenough is a new venture by Todd Hunter. Todd formerly provided leadership to AlphaUSA, but now has launched this new venture. He explains in detail exactly what TiE (Three is Enough) groups are on his About page. As I understand it, he is encouraging people to purposefully develop intentional friendship in groups of three for the purpose of spiritual formation and service toward others. Certainly worthwhile endeavors. Having spent a week with Todd in one of my DMin courses, I can assure you that he is the kind of person who has thought and prayed this through in the context of refining community before going public with it. It is certainly worth checking into for your own benefit, or perhaps that of your ministry teams and churches.

Splinter Child: A Moment With Noah

Recently, Ryan Frank of Kidzmatter asked me to submit a 500 word essay to be published in an email blast to his readership. I am grateful for the opportunity. I encourage you to go to his website to sign up for the KidzMatter Kaleidoscope e-newsletter. You will find lots of encouragement, wisdom, ideas and creativity.

The article I wrote is very personal. It is entitled “Splinter Child: A Moment With Noah.” Here is a teaser:

Noah entered the children’s room at church with eyes wide open, full of five-year-old exuberance and wonder. He smiled. I smiled too as I leaned over and gathered him into my arms to hug him. Then I encouraged him to join the other children in a time of play with bouncy balls before Kids’ Club began. And I remembered. To read more, please proceed to the article.

HomePDX: A Church for the Homeless in Portland, Oregon

Occasionally I am asked about the innovative ways in which people do church in Portland. HomePDX is a church which was planted by Ken Lloyd. It is an offshoot of the Bridge Church in North Portland, where his wife continues to pastor. Neither of these churches are self-consciously attempting to get attention via style. They simply are trying to reach distinct communities for which most of us have little understanding or contact. The video below gives you a taste of a typical Sunday morning gathering. You may also visit them on the web at homepdx.net. However, be warned that the website does contain pervasive bad language. I do not personally agree with it, but it is what it is. So if you are easily offended, don’t bother navigating to their site. However, if you want to see authentic ministry in the margins of US American culture, then check it out.

ZWorthy of Zloop? Only Ztime Will Ztell….

From the the article, “Startup: Vital signs of a young regional company,” in the business section of the Oregonian Newspaper, Saturday, 15 March 2008. Written by Jonathan Brinckman.

“The product: ZLoop, a Web site that lets people create private, secure environments for collaboration and social interaction. Users can create communities of any size and for any purpose, from entire organizations to small work teams.” To read more, click here.

The founder, Jim Bisenius, dreams that this product, zloop.com, will replace email as the standard web-based means of communication in the future. Only time will tell whether his concept will gain serious traction in the days to come, thereby fulfilling his dream. If it is successfully launched with widespread appeal, he will need to deal with heavy hitters such as Microsoft, Google and even Yahoo who will likely eye his company for takeover, in keeping with their strategic corporate customs.

I am intrigued with the idea of zloop because it features scalable aspects, protection features, social networking capabilities, and it is accessible to small networks, as well as corporate ventures. I think it is something to keep an eye on. You may join the site for free to experience the current platform version.

Religious Product News Website

Religious Product News is a magazine which “aims to be the source for growing churches regarding their purchasing decisions.” Each month, they post helpful product reviews and articles designed to help church leaders make informed purchasing decisions. Their articles benefit all areas of church life, including subjects targeted for children’s ministry. I am humbled to note that they have featured one of my articles in their February, 2008 edition. It is entitled Choosing a Curriculum for your Children’s Church Worship Hour.

You may subscribe to the magazine, free of charge. Or you may visit their website to benefit from their content. So check it out! There are many gems to be found. For example, the noted author Lyle Schaller is a regular contributor. With a circulation of about 30 thousand decision makers, Religious Product News is making an important contribution by helping church leaders throughout Christendom.

First Rate Free Biblical Studies Website

Are you looking to upgrade your skills in Bible and ministry? Here is a free web-based resource, www.biblicaltraining.org. The site is run by seasoned professors who have a heart for ministry and the Bible, and a love for the Lord. Whether you are a lay person, a professional minister, or a scholar in your own right, this site just might have something to meet your needs. Why not check it out? Registration is required, but use of services is free. As a bonus, they have a links section which points you to a wide variety of additional helpful free resources.

The courses include, but are not limited to Bible, systematic theology, educational ministry, worship, hermenuetics, philosophy, Greek, Hebrew, apologetics, Intro to Islam, Intro to Buddhism, Church history, ethics, and so on. The list is huge. And these are first rate scholars!

Enjoy!